Hurricane Dean was the fourth named storm, first hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Dean formed on August 13 in the central Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles. Dean ultimately became a Category 5 hurricane and reached a peak intensity of 175 mph, along with a pressure of 905 mb. Dean made its first landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula near Chetumal, as a Category 5, becoming the first Atlantic storm to make landfall at that intensity since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Dean then emerged into the Bay of Campeche, and made landfall near Teclutla, Veracruz as a Category 2 hurricane. Dean quickly dissipated over the mountains of Mexico. Dean was also the strongest hurricane in the 2007 season.
Dean killed 44 people, and caused $1.5 billion (2007 USD) in damage.
|Formation||August 13, 2007|
|Dissipation||August 23, 2007|
|Highest winds||175 mph|
|Lowest pressure||905 mbar|
|Deaths||32 direct, 12 indirect|
|Damages||$1.5 billion (2007 USD)|
|Areas affected||Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua|
|Part of the||2007 Atlantic hurricane season|
Dean's origins can be traced back to a vigorous tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 11. The wave had a closed surface circulation even before emerging into the Atlantic Ocean, but strong easterly wind shear kept the deep convection displaced west of the elongated circulation center for a couple of days. However, by 0600 UTC August 13, the circulation became better defined as well as sufficiently embedded within the deep convection for the wave to be considered Tropical Depression Four while located about 350 miles west-southwest of Praia, Cape Verde. Because it was embedded within a strong easterly steering current, the cyclone initially moved to the west at a very swift foward speed of 20 knots. The depression was slow to organize, due to easterly shear still present over the system. It finally reached tropical storm status at 1200 UTC August 14 while located about 1250 miles east of Barbados. After becoming a tropical storm, Dean's satellite presentation deteriorated, and the storm became ragged. Despite this, Dean strengthened the next day, and then turned to the west-northwest, still moving very quickly. Dean would continue on this course for the next week, courtesy of a ridge of high pressure to the north imparting an easterly to southeasterly steering current. The easterly shear that was over Dean gradually subsided, and by late on August 15, a well-defined curved convective band developed around the circulation center, and microwave satellite imagery showed the formation of a partial eyewall. Shortly thereafter, infrared satellite imagery began to indicate that Dean was developing an eye, and by early morning on August 16, Dean became a hurricane, the first of the 2007 season while located about 480 miles east of Barbados.
As upper-level outflow became better defined, Dean's winds increased to 90 mph at 1200 UTC that day, but the eyewall abruptly disappeared afterward, and Dean's intensification temporarily stopped. On August 17, Dean entered the Carribean Sea, and its eye passed between Martinique and St. Lucia around 0930 UTC. The northern eyewall, accompanied by sustained winds of about 100 mph, passed directly over the island of Martinique. As upper-level outflow increased in all quadrants of the storm, Dean began to rapidly intensify while over the eastern Carribean Sea, with its winds increasing from 90 mph to 165 mph within 24 hours, ending at 0600 UTC August 18. At 1200 UTC that day, Dean's minimum central pressure was at 923 mb. During this period of rapid intensification, Dean's foward speed slowed to about 15 knots; nevertheless, its heading remained west-northwest throughout its journey through the Carribean, due to a strong ridge of high pressure north of the hurricane that persisted through most of the cyclone's life. In addition, a mid-to upper-level low over south Florida on August 18 moved westward in tandem with Dean. Early on August 18, Dean passed about 180 miles south of Puerto Rico, continuing west-northwest towards the island of Jamaica. By 1200 UTC that day, microwave satellite imagery showed a concentric eyewall structure.
As the inner eyewall of the hurricane deteriorated over the next 12 hours, Dean's winds decreased from 165 mph to 140 mph. Interestingly, however, the central pressure dropped a little bit during this time, dropping below 920 mb for a short time early on August 19. Dean remained a Category 4 as it passed about 80 miles south of Haiti during the morning of August 19, and about 20 miles south of Jamaica that evening. As Dean skirted Jamaica, its intensity is estimated to be at 145 mph, although data from a reconnaissance aircraft indicate that Dean's strongest winds remained just offshore the island. On August 20, Dean moved away from Jamaica, and moved across the very warm waters over the northwestern Carribean Sea. The convective structure that day was dominated by a single eyewall, and because of that, as well as a light vertical wind shear, Dean began to strengthen as it approached the Yucatan Peninsula. As the eywall contracted, Dean regained Category 5 status near 0000 UTC August 21, and was still intensifying when it made landfall near the town of Majahual in the Costa Maya tourist region of the Yucatan near 0830 UTC that day. At the time of landfall, Dean is estimated to have had a minimum central pressure of 905 mb, along with sustained winds of 175 mph, making Dean the first Category 5 landfall in the Atlantic since Hurricane Andrew of 1992.
As Dean crossed the Yucatan Peninsula, it weakened considerably, and it emerged into the Bay of Campeche around 1900 UTC that day. Although Dean maintained hurricane status across its 10 hour trek overland, its inner core was significantly disrupted. Data from a reconnaissance aircraft that day indicated that Dean's radius of maximum wind had extended out to roughly 55 miles, and Dean was only able to regain a small portion of the strength that it once possessed. A deep layer ridge of high pressure draped across the northern Gulf Coast forced Dean to the west-northwest until 1200 UTC August 22, when Dean turned to the west. At 1630 UTC that day, Dean made landfall near Tecolutla, about 90 miles northeast of Veracruz, as a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 100 mph. After landfall, Dean weakened rapidly, and it became a tropical depression by 0000 UTC August 23. It dissipated over the mountains of Mexico shortly thereafter.
As Hurricane Dean approached the Lesser Antilles the local meteorological services issued watches and warnings, advising residents to prepare for the storm. Hurricane warnings were issued for St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe and its dependencies. Hurricane watches were issued for Saba and St. Eustatius. Tropical storm warnings were issued for Barbados, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands. Tropical storm watches were issued for St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Grenada and its dependencies, Montserrat, and Anguilla.
Local authorities closed airports, set up shelters, and prepared emergency service personnel. Authorities on the island of Martinique canceled a memorial service to the victims of the West Carribean Airways Flight 708, and instead began to set up shelters. In Dominica, tourists were evacuated to concrete shelters and foreign medical students from the Ross University School of Medicine evacuated the island entirely. Also, the government of Dominica canceled leave of emergency service personnel and also evacuated the Princess Margret Hospital, due to fears that its roof would be vulnerable to Dean's strong winds. The main airport on the island of Martinique, as well as both commercial airports on St. Lucia, closed when the airplanes landed on the night of August 16, at which time Dean's outer bands began to move across the island.
In anticipation of significant damage from Dean, several emergency response groups gathered funds and readied personnel. On August 14, the Carribean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) placed its Regional Response Mechanism on standby and also contacted the National Disaster Coordinations of all member states in the Lesser Antilles. On August 15, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) dispatched crews to Barbados, Dominica, and St. Kitts in advance of the hurricane to provide damage assessment should the storm affect those islands. Also, the Eastern Carribean Donor Group had a meeting on August 16 under the Chair of the Resident Representative United Nations Department Programme Barbados in anticipation that member states would require international aid following the storm.
Hurricane Dean as viewed onboard the International Space Station.
As Dean approached, Hurricane Warnings were issued for the island of Jamaica, and also in Haiti, from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic from Barahona to the Hispaniola border. In addition, Tropical Storm warnings were issued for the rest of Haiti, and also for coastal Cuba between Camagüey and Guantánamo. Hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated from low-lying and coastal areas, and disaster management programs were activated throughout the Greater Antilles.
Because Jamaica was initially forecast to be hit head on by Hurricane Dean, the island underwent extensive preparation. The Jamaican government executed long-standing evacuation plans, including converting the country's national arena into a shelter and relocating inmates from two maximum security prisons. Also, political parties held on the island suspending their campaigning for the August 27 national elections, in order to allow residents to prepare for Hurricane Dean. Curfews were put into place on parts of the island, while off-duty essential personnel were called back to work. More than 1,000 schools and churches were converted into storm shelters, although residents only occupied 47 of them before the arrival of the hurricane. The country's high crime rate caused residents of the island to fear for their belongings if they abandoned their homes, which could explain why residents only occupied 47 of the shelters. UNICEF prepared 4 emergency health kits, as well as 1,000 water containers and Copa Airlines agreed to fly the supplies to the island on its scheduled August 22 flight, if possible. The World Food Program prepared food stocks in nearby Haiti, being ready to move them to Jamaica should the need arise. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team tried to reach Jamaica, but only one member arrived before all incoming flights were canceled. The United States confirmed that it would offer aid to Jamaica, should the island need it, and the Northwest Carribean Donor Group met to decide what actions would need to be taken in order to help the island.
Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic
Hispaniola was also forecast to be significantly affected by Hurricane Dean, with workers from World Vision supplying food, water, medicine, as well as emergency generators in the southern provinces of the Dominican Republic, and in the southern provinces of Hispaniola, where Hurricane Warnings had been issued. 1,580 residents of low-lying areas of the Dominican Republic, and more than 1,000 Haitian residents were evacuated as the hurricane approached. Also, small craft were advised to stay in port, while Haiti's Toussaint Louverture International Airport was closed.
In the Cayman Islands, evacuations were ordered for the low-lying island of Little Cayman. Tourists were forbidden from leaving the island, and extra flights were added to evacuate the ones that were already there. Schools as well as civic centers were converted into storm shelters on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, but despite the mandatory evacuation, one shelter was opened on Little Cayman for residents who decided to ride out the storm. In fear of catastrophic damage, two Royal Navy ships of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North), HMS Portland and RFA Wave Ruler, followed 150 miles behind the storm in order to arrive at the Cayman Islands as soon after the storm as possible.
HMS Portland followed Dean through the Carribean, prepared to support the Cayman Islands, if necessary.
Cuba and Puerto Rico
Although the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico were not expected to be significantly impacted by Dean, both islands still made modest preparations. Cuba's Civil Defense evacuated 350,000 residents from coastal provinces. Also, the government of Havana suspended all tourist programs ahead of the storm. Soldiers and emergency management officials were prepared to convert schools and other government buildings into temporary storm shelters, but this action was not taken when it became apparent that it would not be required. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed a five-member team to the island of Puerto Rico in advance of the hurricane. The aforementioned teams were equipped with satellite communication systems in order to provide video-teleconferencing and help make real-time assessments of any damage.
With Dean forecast to strike Mexico well advance of when it actually did, the Government of Mexico was able to make extensive preparations. On August 17, a state of emergency was declared for the state of Quintana Roo, which is where Dean was expected to make landfall. On August 18, authorities began evacuating tourists as well as residents living in the most vulnerable parts of Quintana Roo. The government set up storm shelters in schools as well as other public buildings. With emergency supplies at hand, the state of Yucatán, Quintana Roo's neighbor to the northwest, declared a green alert. On August 19, a Hurricane Watch was issued for the Yucatan Peninsula from Chetumal to San Felipe, and residents made their last minute preparations.
Hurricane Dean over the Yucatan Peninsula.
In Belize, a Hurricane Warning was issued for the coastal sections north of Belize City, with winds forecast to reach 150 mph in those areas. The government executed a dusk-to-dawn curfew from Belize City to the Mexican border. On August 16 and 17, Prime Minister Said Musa chaired two meetings of Belize's National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO). He instructed the newly created coast guard to evacuate popular tourist destination sites Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye by boat as well as plane. Also, authorities evacuated Belize City's three hospitals, and moved high-risk patients inland to the capital city of Belmopan. The mayor urged residents to leave Belize City and make use of the shelters at Belmopan. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team dispatched two members to Belize City and the rest of the team traveled to Belmopan. Also, government supplies were stored in Orange Walk, Corozal for post-storm relief. Essential equipment from the Red Cross as well as the Pan American Health Organization was stored in the elevated UNICEF building. Also, the Belize City UN building was converted into a crisis center.
Gulf of Mexico
On August 15, oil futures spiked, due to the potential impact of Dean on the oil refineries. Transocean evacuated 11 nonessential workers on August 15 from an oil rig located about 160 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. The company left around 125 personnel on the oil rig. A day later, on August 16, Royal Dutch Shell evacuated 275 ancillary staff, following an evacuation of 188 due to Tropical Storm Erin. On August 18, 10,300 barrels of crude oil as well as 11,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas were shut-in per day, accounting for 0.8% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. By 11:30 AM CST that day, two oil rigs and one oil platform had evacuated personnel. The state-owned Mexican oil company, Penex, made preparations to shut down oil production on August 19, due to Dean. Penex evacuated 13,360 workers from more than 140 oil platforms, using 55 boats as well as 22 helicopters. As Dean continued to intensify, the number of Penex evacuees increased to 18,000 on August 20, and all 407 oil wells and drilling operations were halted. This reduction reduced the worldwide production of oil and natural gas by 2.65 million barrels and 2.6 million cubic feet per day, respectively.
Several offshore oil platforms, such as this one, were evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Dean.
About 12 cruise ships across the Carribean Sea were forced to alter their courses in order to avoid dangerous Hurricane Dean. The country of Honduras was put under a state of preventative alert for 48 hours, particularly the departments to the north of the country; the Bay Islands were under a state of red alert. Also, there were locations ready to accommodate 10,000 people for 15 days, if necessary.
In the United States, specifically Louisiana, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness activated its Crisis Action Team on August 16 to monitor the progress of the hurricane, as well as coordinate storm preparation. Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency early on the evening of August 17, asking for a presidential emergency declaration to give Louisiana access to federal funds prior to any potential landfall from the hurricane.
In Texas, governor Rick Perry declared Dean an imminent threat to the state. Because of this, he activated a full-scale hurricane preparedness effort on August 17 while the hurricane was at least five days away. Prior to the hurricane, the state of Texas experienced significant flooding from several June and July storms. In addition, Tropical Storm Erin had ensured that the ground remained saturated. Because of this, Governor Perry feared that more rainfall from Dean would produce additional flooding, and thus had 250 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department crews on standby with boats in order to assist in any potential evacuations. Also, he was willing to deploy up to 10,000 Texas Military Forces soldiers, and did actually deploy several elements of the Texas State Guard, who set up emergency storm shelters. The Texas fuel industry began surging fuel loads to coastal counties to ensure adequate fuel in the event of the hurricane causing a disruption to the fuel distribution system. In anticipation of possible evacuations, the Texas Department of Transportation began working on extra evacuation lanes as well as contraflow. Also, NASA cut short the STS-118 mission just in case the hurricane approached Mission Control at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Because of this, mission managers cut the mission's final spacewalk short by 2 hours, which allowed them to land a day earlier than was initially planned.
Dean impacted a total of 15 countries throughout its ten day rampage across the Atlantic, Carribean, and Gulf of Mexico. Dean killed a total of 42 people throughout its lifetime.
On August 17, Dean entered the Carribean as a Category 2 hurricane through the Saint Lucia Channel. Dean then moved quickly between the islands of St. Lucia and Martinique, with its storm surge and outer rainbands affecting every island along the island chain. On St. Lucia, damage was mostly due to rough seas, with total damage amounting to $18,000,000 (2007 USD). Dean produced sustained winds of 75 mph, with gusts to 105 mph on Martinique. Dean's heavy rainfall, which reached 13.07 inches, causing flooding throughout the island, with the town of Rivière-Pilote being completely flooded by the hurricane. Also, the majority of the island's residents were left without electricity, water, telephone, or food, and 600 people were left homeless on the island. Dean destroyed the island's entire banana crop, as well as 70% of the island's sugar cane plantations. The damage to these two agricultural sectors of the island accounted for the majority of the island's damage, which is estimated to be at €400,000,000. Dean indirectly killed three people on the island. Nearby Guadaloupe also received €400,000,000 in damage.
A standing lifeguard tower admist fallen palm trees in Martinique, two days after Dean's passage through the island.
On the evening of August 16, 12 hours before Dean's arrival in St. Lucia, some regions of the island began to experience power outages. 1.58 inches of rain fell at St. Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport that evening. By the morning of August 17, winds as high as 90 mph occured, which uprooted trees, downed power lines, disabled bridges, caused landslides, as well as caused damage to several roofs. The capital of the island, Castries, was flooded by Dean's storm surge, which left boulders and fishing boats on the streets. One person drowned in the town of Sarrot after being swept away by a flooded river while trying to recover a cow. In addition, Dean caused damage to the roofs of both hospitals on the island, although no one was injured. Several other buildings were also damaged by the hurricane, mainly along the northern coast of the island which was most exposed to Dean. The Ministry of Education reported that 11 schools had sustained a combined total of $300,000 EC in damage, with nationwide damage to housing and buildings totaling to $800,000 EC. The Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport, and Public Utilities reported that most of the country's major infrastructure remained functional, and no long-term disruptions occurred. The hardest hit area on St. Lucia was the agricultural industry, with 5,000 banana farms in Mabouya Valley, Roseau Valley, and Marc Marc experiencing significant damage, with many of the plantations waterlogged or totally destroyed. An average of 75% of the crops on the island were lost due to Hurricane Dean, with fields in the Northern Farms losing up to 80% of all crops, with the Roseau Valley losing up to 85% of all crops. Total damage to the agricultural industry on St. Lucia reached $13.2 million EC, bringing the damage total on the island to $17.3 million EC.
Although Dean passed south of most of the Greater Antilles, its outer rainbands affected many of the countries in the Greater Antilles, although Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands received only minimal impact from the formidable hurricane.
Dean produced heavy rainfall in Puerto Rico, which caused several roadways to become flooded. Heavy surf was also experienced along the coast, although no deaths or injuries were reported.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Because Dean passed well to the south of the above mentioned countries, it had minimal impact, although 15 people were killed in the two island nations. Heavy rainfall caused street flooding in Santo Domingo. In addition, high surf was experienced along the coast.
The heavy rains also triggered landslides in the heavily deforested country of Haiti, which destroyed several hundred homes and forced 5,154 people into temporary shelters, and also compromised the temperamental water system in the town of Bainet.
In Jamaica, Dean produced flooding along the eastern end of the island as well as landslides along the northeastn end. Dean also caused over 1,500 roofs on structures to be lost, primarily from strong winds, and 1,582 of the 3,127 homes that Dean damaged were uninhabitable. Landslides along with fallen trees blocked hundreds of roadways, mainly in the rural portions along the northeastern section of the island. The island's agricultural industry also experienced damage from Dean, losing 40% of the sugar cane crop, 80 to 100% of the banana crop, 75% of the coffee trees under three years old, and 20% of the top layer cocoa crop. Dean also affected 248 roads, including 148 that were blocked. 10 roads were blocked in the metropolitan region of Kingston, 14 in St. Andrew, 43 in St. Catherine, 8 in the Western Region, and 110 in the northeastern portion of the island.
A destroyed home in Kingston, Jamaica.
Cuba and the Cayman Islands
In Grand Cayman, 2,000 residents rode out the hurricane in temporary shelters. Dean produced a power outage on the island, but other than that, impacts from the hurricane in Grand Cayman, and the Cayman Islands as a whole, were minimal.
From August 19 through August 21, Dean's outer bands passed over the island of Cuba, producing high surf and heavy rainfall, but little strong wind.
Dean made two landfalls in Mexico; one along the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 5 hurricane, and one in eastern Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane.
Hurricane Dean as a Category 5 at its Yucatan Peninsula landfall.
Dean made its Yucatan landfall in the state of Quintana Roo, near the town of Majahual, as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 175 mph. Wind gusts as high as 200 mph were reported in association with the powerful hurricane. Although Cancún and Cozumel were spared the worst of the storm, the state capital of Chetumal, about 40 miles south of where the hurricane made landfall, received significant flooding from the hurricane. The aforementioned city of Majahual was completely destroyed by Dean. The hurricane's storm surge and strong winds severely damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings and destroyed steel girders. High waves from the hurricane broke away portions of the concrete dock at Costa Maya's popular cruise port, and the harbor was closed to cruise ships for nearly a year. Despite the extreme damage along the Yucatan Peninsula in association with Hurricane Dean, no deaths were reported, due to ample warning and sufficient preparation.
When Dean made its second Mexican landfall along the coast of Veracruz, it overflowed two rivers in the mountains of the state of Hidalgo. In addition, rainfall fell as far as west as the Pacific coast of Mexico. Petroleum damage was minimal, and quickly recovered. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 in fell across the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. The heavy rainfall killed one person in Jalisco after triggering a mudslide that fell atop 10 houses. In addition, five people were killed in Puebla by landslides, and one more person was crushed after a wall on his home collapsed. One person in Veracruz was electrocuted after touching an active power line while preforming roof repairs. In Michoacán, a man under a tree was struck by lightning, and two people were killed in Hidalgo when the roof of their home collapsed. Dean killed a total of 12 people during its second Mexican landfall, and total damage from both landfalls reached $1.6 million (2007 USD).
In Belize, the worst weather from Hurricane Dean was experienced along the northern portion of the country, in the city of Corozal, with downed trees being reported throughout the city, along with minor flooding. 8,000 residents were forced into temporary storm shelters, although all of them returned home in less than 2 days. The Belizean Ministry of Health reported that no one had died in the country due to the hurricane, and only a few people suffered minor injuries. The country's agricultural sector experienced significant damage, with its sugar cane and papaya crops sustaining extensive damage. The Belizian Government's National Emergency Management Organization estimated Dean's damage to the papaya industry at 30,000,000 BZ and to the sugar industry at 6,000 acres worth BZ$3.6 million. Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. reported that the country's sugar crop for the year was the worst on record, producing 980,000 pounds of sub-standard cane, compared to 1.2 million of high quality sugar cane in 2006. Also, more than 1,000 residents were without jobs due to the damage caused to the aforementioned plantations. The government attempted to improve the next crop season in 2008 by providing fertilizers to the farmers that had their land damaged the year before by the hurricane. Belize Prime Minister Said Musa estimated that total damage in the country from Hurricane Dean reached $10,000,000 (2007 USD).
Although Dean did not pass close to the country, a 4 year old girl drowned on a boat off the coast of Nicaragua that sank due to the hurricane's strong winds and rough seas at the mouth of the Kukra River.
Although Dean passed well away from the United States, it produced high surf and dangerous rip currents along the beaches of Florida. One person drowned because of that, and at least 35 people had to be rescued at Siesta Key.
Dean's remnant circulation, after lingering off the Pacific coast of Mexico, moved inland near Santa Barbara, California on the morning of August 26, with the remnants crossing the Mojave Desert on the morning of August 27. Dean's remnants produced 0.58 inches of rain in Las Vegas, which was a daily record. The city experienced some flash flooding, along with minor damage, as a result of the aforementioned heavy rains.
Because of the extensive damage and loss of life, the name Dean was retired during the Spring of 2008 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Dorian for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.